Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Alphabet Soup Update: Why Local Matters

As we've noted time and again, having a local expert to administer Flex Spending Accounts and Health Reimbursement Arrangements is ideal. Our local gurus, FlexBank, just proved that again. Via email, they've tipped us to a little-known - but potentially major - option for groups utilizing Section 125 plans (so-called "POP Plans").

Premium-only plans are the vehicles by which companies make it possible for employees to pay their portion of health insurance premiums pre-tax. This can be a major cost-saver for both the employee and the employer. But there are rules for these plans, one of which is that mid-year changes are verboten (unless there's a "qualifying event").

The new Exchange policies, which many employees may wish to purchase, go into effect on January 1. If your employer has a calendar-year POP plan, no problem, you make the change. But what if your employer's plan isn't on a calendar-year basis? Some employees may elect to drop their current group coverage in favor of an Exchange-based individual plan, but that's not one of the recognized "qualifying events."

Until now.

Thanks to the folks at FlexBank, we learn that the folks in Capital City have heard those pleas, and are offering a one-time only "out" for employees in this situation. The IRS has stated that employers with non-calendar year based POP plans may amend them to allow employees to drop off of (or join!) these "cafeteria" plans effective January 1, 2014.

Good news indeed.

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